|Title||Suggestions for Public Transportation Policy Reforms|
Minimizing Passenger Discomfort, Maximizing Management Rationality
The private bus operation system of the past failed to induce bus companies to reorganize and streamline their routes, instead encouraging them to favor long and convoluted routes with high redundancies. Preoccupied first and foremost with profitability, private bus operating companies insisted on creating and maintaining routes that were inefficient and inconvenient for passengers. Under this private operation system, there was little Seoul could do to ensure and enhance citizens’ access to public transportation. However, the city government managed to turn this situation around by adopting a semi-public operation system, through which it could exercise the exclusive right to create and coordinate bus routes and allocate the proceeds from bus services more evenly among all bus operating companies. In doing so, Seoul also introduced a systematic program for evaluating bus companies, thus encouraging these companies to improve the safety and quality of bus services for passengers.
Resolving Conflicts Among Stakeholders
In order to ensure the success of the newly reformed bus system, it was crucial for Seoul City to minimize possible and actual conflicts among the diverse stakeholders (passengers, bus companies, drivers, and local residents) and establish channels for effective communication among them.
Seoul Metropolitan Government thus organized the CCBR as a means of gathering together representatives from civil society, research circles, and the bus industry for in-depth discussions on and reviews of measures for solving the fundamental problems of public transportation in Seoul. The CCBR turned out to be instrumental to the establishment of a society-wide consensus that bus system reform was essential to enhancing public convenience and halting the deterioration of bus companies’ management.
Seoul City and bus companies also agreed to work together to reorganize and streamline bus routes, under a dual-pillar system of trunk and feeder bus routes. With this agreement, the parties involved were able to design a new, more efficient bus route system. Seoul, moreover, held public hearings and town hall meetings in districts throughout the city to hear citizens’ opinions on the reform of bus routes and minimize possible conflicts.
Developing Infrastructure for More Competitive Bus Services
The reform of Seoul’s bus system also required the creation and expansion of infrastructure for minimizing passenger inconvenience and maximizing the efficiency of bus services. To this end, Seoul Metropolitan Government installed additional public bus parking garages, complete with repair shops and other amenities for bus company personnel. The reform of the trunk and feeder routes also required that transfer centers be set up so as to simplify the routes and reduce transfer distances. Seoul City also had to introduce cutting-edge transportation information systems to provide the public with up-to-date information on the status of public transportation services on a real-time basis. The establishment of the BMS has made it possible to keep all of the stakeholders involved—bus companies, drivers, and citizens—up to date on the availability of vehicles, status of roads and transfer facilities, and estimated bus arrival and departure times in real time. Accordingly, passengers today can easily access the public transportation information they need, and bus companies are able to better manage their routes, headways, and services. In addition, the transit card system facilitates the operation of the new integrated distance-based public transportation fare rate system and the provision of transfer discounts for passengers. All of these new systems have contributed to the increasing competitiveness of public transportation and the growth of public demand for such services.